Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column: Time to get active

As we continue to make progress in tackling coronavirus across the country, this weekend we will finally see indoor gyms, swimming pools, dance studios and other sports facilities re-open.

Gyms are reopening
Gyms are reopening

I know this news will be met with welcome relief and excitement by many who have missed their usual workouts since March 23rd when those businesses were asked to close. And it is joined with the news that grassroots football, including the Sunday league, can resume too; with the FA having worked closely with Government to find a way to get this done safely.

Just like our shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, these places will look and feel different. More regular cleaning routines, a focus on showering at home if you can, and adaptions for social distancing. These are all vital steps in allowing us to get back to living our lives in a more normal way.

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I am looking forward to getting out and about this weekend to see what’s changed. From St Peters Leisure Centre and Crow Wood, to personal training studios like FX Fitness Experience. I hope to see all of them spring back to life on Saturday.

As we see this next phase of re-opening it is our chance to rekindle our love for sports and fitness. I am amongst the many who sometimes struggles to make the time for the session in the gym or a run outdoors, but I am determined to change that. Because as we all know, exercise plays an important part in both our physical and mental health.

That’s why we must get more active and healthier as a nation. To improve the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our communities for the long-term. With that in mind I hope everyone takes the opportunity, as I will, to rekindle their love of running, a workout in the gym, swimming, or some other form of exercise.

I also wanted to address the news about Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle, where the rate of infection of COVID-19 has crept up, causing concern to many across our own borough.

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I know many people will have friends and family in those areas and will worry about the impact any local lockdown could have on them, along with what that would mean for us in Burnley and Padiham.

I want to reassure people that both areas are now receiving targeted support from public health officials and action plans are in place to deal with the rise in number of cases, including additional mobile testing units and greater community engagement for high-risk groups. Additional powers have also now been given to local authorities to allow them to close certain business premises, or public spaces, if there is a public need to do so.

Where action does need to be taken, it will be. And we can all do our bit too. As we continue to move forward, we all need to stay alert to the threat posed by the virus – that is how we will avoid any similar increase in cases here.

As well as gyms and pools re-opening, this Saturday will also be when face coverings become mandatory for those entering shops. Whilst some have concerns about this, including why they are needed in some places and not others, it is another string in our bow in the fight against the virus.

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I would urge everyone to continue to play their part; stay alert to the virus; and take the precautions needed to keep everyone safe.